Ok, frugal people, I'm looking for new ideas for both making the advent calendar, and also activities/fun stuff to put in each day....Spam away! I need to make this in the next day or so.
The Advent Calendar Thread
When we were kids, we simply had a long, wide piece of green felt, decorated with a Christmas tree or a star or something at the top. Then there were pieces of candy - tootsie rolls or something with twisted wrappers at the ends - stapled down the length of the felt. Remive one piece of candy fro the bottom each day - Christmas is at the top!
I made a beautiful one out of old candy tins (altoid, etc). I painted them red, silver, and white, and put a hole in the top and tied fishing line to them, with a small bead for the date (1, 2, 3). We put them on a branch. I have mostly things to do (which we would probably do anyway, LOL), like the xmas parade, buy a present for a child in need, make cookies, go out for ice cream, etc. Then for the days that we didn't have an activity to fill in I gave him a piece of candy or a sicker or a tattoo, etc. For every thing to do I wrote it on a piece of paper (i.e. "go to the xmas parade").
I got the idea here, but modified it because I wanted them to hang on a branch:
This version, made with cardboard toilet paper rolls, must be one of the most frugal I've ever seen, but quite pretty and practical too.
We use Christmas-themed baby socks, strung along a red ribbon. It's pretty, but a little heavy. Originally we wrapped the ribbon around a long bannister and that worked really well. I find that if we string it along a mantlepiece or windowsill or on the wall, we need strong hooks and adhesives to keep it from falling.
Paper snowflakes is always a big hit. So is Christmas Tree campout (sleeping under the tree - ugh, wish I'd never introduced this one lol). Holiday nails (I let the girls choose RED (I am a "light pink" mom) and put on Christmas nail stickers. Sometimes daddy lets the girls paint his toenails which is always a hoot!), candlelit bubble bath, dress up dinner (another huge favorite)...trying to think of others...
I'm making one like pictured below only in fabric. I'm using a backboard and framing it, and then sewing them as little pocket so the ornaments are open at the top and I can put in either candy or a note (activity, treat, quote)... Instead of the basic shapes here, I'm using all sorts of shapes (owl, pine cone, penguin, etc.) that I found templates for online. Mine is also secular, so I will simply write "A Countdown to Christmas" or some "Peace, Love, Hope, Joy" kinda thing.
We are doing felt things - ice skates, mittens, stockings, snowmen, ornaments, Christmas trees, etc. - I have cut them out and the kids are gluing and/or hand-sewing them. We're hanging them similar to the mittens above - on a string with clothespins. I bought felt by the yard (MUCH cheaper that way), and we're just using whatever embroidery thread/yarn we have in the scrap box.
Barring that, I was going to do a paper chain and just write the day's activity on each piece of paper. (If you only have a day to accomplish it - this may be the way to go!)
Some of the activities that we have that haven't been mentioned yet -
- Both my MIL and my father do Christmas out of town with extended family, so we do Christmas with them individually one night prior to them leaving.
- Our local art museum has free admission the first Sunday of the month, and has a Christmas tree display.
- There is a local Christmas parade that we are going to go to. (Check around in your local area - we've never heard of the parade or the museum until I started googling to find stuff for us to do for the advent calendar.)
- There is also a local holiday market that we will go to.
- I got wooden ornament cutouts from a craft store that come with markers for the kids to color.
- Setting up the nativity set.
- Setting up the stockings on the mantle.
- Call a relative we haven’t spoken with in a while and sing We Wish You a Merry Christmas.
- Opening new jammies and slipper is slated for Christmas Eve.
- We have two days where DD will go out with DH and I separately to purchase stocking stuffers for the other parent, and DS will stay home with whichever parent isn't shopping to bake cookies or play trains or something.
I made this in about a day --between caring for my children and doing household stuff and whatnot. If you did it after the kiddos are in bed it would only take a couple hours at the most. It's a big piece of carboard, cut like a Christmas tree and painted green. Then. I made 24 cardboard Christmas lights, painted and glittered them quite haphazardly lol... Made a star from cardboard and painted/glittered it. Then I folded and stapled construction paper into envelopes and hot-glued the entire thing together. I ♥ hot glue. It looks pretty nice and it was completely free with craft supplies/recycleables we already had. My oldest also helped as well, so it was a fun activity to do together.
As far as activities, the posters above had great ideas. We also do a couple activities more than once, such as making hot chocolate and looking at Christmas lights. We do that once a week at least during the holidays.
We do a simple paper chain with red and green construction paper. We make three of them and the kids take delight in tearing off a link of their chain each morning.
I didn't have construction paper on hand this year, so made them with printer paper and let the kids decorate them. Cheap holiday fun.
Thanks everyone! Here's what I came up with. I still have a few more butts to wipe before I can finish. I'm going to add in the activities each day as we go so that we can be flexible about when we do things. I'll try to post my list of activities tomorrow. I got so many fantastic ideas!
I already had the board w/the fabric on it, and the silver ribbon was on there already. I had to put some stuff on the corners to cover up some spots so some ribbons and bows and ornaments the kids painted went there.
Are those toilet paper tubes? How awesome! I saw the toilet paper tube idea *after* I made mine, but I may do that next year - or sew little felt pouches. Good job, especially in such a short amount of time!!
Also, the idea about adding activities one or two days at a time for flexability is a great idea, and we do that as well because some days I may not feel like making 2 dozen sugar cookies and other days I may be inspired, know what I mean? -- or we may not hear about an event until a day or two beforehand so I find doing it that way makes my life a lot easier and I don't have to think of 24 activities at once!